September 3, 2021

Best Bouldering Crash Pads of 2022

by Bernice

A bouldering crash pad is a foam pad that protects the climbers when bouldering. It protects them from any injuries when they fall from a short or longer height. Mostly, it is used during outdoor bouldering to help reduce the impact of a fall by putting a foam layer between the ground and the boulderer. 

Bouldering is a type of sport whereby one climbs the most known and accessible discipline.

For indoor bouldering, all you require is a chalk bag and a pair of climbing shoes.

But until you feel lured to climb the real rock, you will need a crash pad for outdoor bouldering.

It’s the most vital gear or piece of equipment that you should consider while stepping out.

Here is a guide for starters. 

If you love climbing, then you are probably searching for the best bouldering crash pads.

We know how important it is for climbers to have the most reliable crash pads out there.

We have picked the five best bouldering crash pads out there, and we are going to tell you everything you need to know about them.

By the end of this, you will be able to climb with peace of mind.

Below we will give you reviews of five bouldering crash pads, buying advice, and crash pads FAQs. 

All of this information should help you to make the best possible decision when buying your pad.

Whether you are new or experienced, this guide should help you understand everything you would need to know.


Table of Contents
Best Bouldering Crash Pads Product Reviews
List of the Best Bouldering Crash Pads

List of the 5 Best Bouldering Crash Pads

1. Mad Rock Duo Pad

Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad Crash Pad
100 Reviews
Mad Rock Triple Mad Pad Crash Pad
  • Weight: 24 lbs
  • Closed Size: 24"x44"x15"
  • Open Size: 44"x70"x5"

Last update on 2022-09-30 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

The Mad Rock Duo crash pad is simply one of the most proclaimed pads out there.

The Mad Rock Duo is large at 56 x 42 x 5 inches and 17 lb, but not too heavy even with its impressively thick foam padding. 

This advanced strap arrangement allows you to carry an extra pad with no problem.

It features comfortable straps, handles, pockets, and even a mat for cleaning off your shoes.

Since this pad is larger, thick, and has comfortable portability, this would be a great pad for larger climbs.

However, this pad is not the best for shortfalls.

Its foam is great, but it takes some breaking in first.

It can lead to some discomfort if falling for a short distance.

Pros

  • Thick foam
  • Comfortable carrying options
  • Additional features, such as a mat for shoes
  • Can bring extra pads as well

Cons

  • Shortfalls can cause discomfort

2. Mad Rock Mad Pad Crash Pad

Mad Rock Mad Pad (Black)
116 Reviews
Mad Rock Mad Pad (Black)
  • Closed Size: 24" x 36" x 10"
  • Open Size: 48" x 36" x 5"

Last update on 2022-09-30 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Mad Rock Mad Pad is a 48″ x 36″ x 5″ inches and 13.78 lb pad, which is great for a smaller, more cost-effective option.

This pad also offers the convenience of a waist belt, handles, and shoulder straps.

If you’re looking for a bang for your buck, this is a great choice.

Many reviewers stated that the Mad Rock Pad is the cheapest, most durable option out there for climbers.

This pad is probably the best for beginner, smaller climbs.

Pros

  • Cost-effective
  • Waist belt, handles, and shoulder straps for convenience
  • Great overall reviews
  • Bestsellers rank out of the 5 at number 3 in climbing crash pads on Amazon

Cons

  • Not too soft

3. Mad Rock R3 Crash Pad

Mad Rock R3 Crash Pad
96 Reviews
Mad Rock R3 Crash Pad
  • Utilizes a completely new fill system that enables the pad to lay flat, fold easily over features and increases the dampening ability of the impact from falls
  • Baffles contain recycled EVA/PU foam that would normally be collected and shipped for disposal
  • Rugged 1680 denier nylon shell construction makes this pad THE most durable pad in the industry

Last update on 2022-09-30 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

The Mad Rock R3 Crash Pad encompasses a new fill feature that allows the pad to lie completely flat.

It folds easily over features.

It also has a dampening effect to help with the impact of falls.

The rugged 1680 denier nylon shell construction is said to make this the most durable pad out there.

It also supports eco-friendly solutions since the baffles are made from recycled EVA/PU foam that would typically be collected and shipped for disposal.

The EVA foam is ideal for a softer, safer landing.

This crash pad would be great for experienced climbers.

Pros

  • Supports eco-friendly solutions
  • Dampening effect for falls
  • Able to lie perfectly flat and folds easily
  • Construction is supposedly the most durable

Cons

  • Some reviewers suggest the quality is poor

4. Black Diamond Mondo Crash Pad

Black Diamond Equipment - Mondo Crash Pad
8 Reviews
Black Diamond Equipment - Mondo Crash Pad
  • Clean, three-strap closure with improved buckles
  • New suspension system for better transport
  • Closed-cell PE foam layup on top, high compression PU foam on bottom

Last update on 2022-09-30 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

The Mondo Crash Pad comes from Black Diamond Equipment, which has an impressive reputation in the climbing industry.

The Mondo pad is 35.43 x 23.62 x 23.62 inches and only 8.33 lb.

This makes this pad the smallest out of the pads that included dimensions and weight.

It is also the most expensive due to the brand.

This pad is really lightweight and small, so portability is a huge plus.

Pros

  • Smallest, so easily portable
  • Great brand and reputation
  • All six reviews are 5 stars
  • Claims best climbing and related spots gear

Cons

  • Not a lot of information

5. PETZL Alto Crash Pad

PETZL Alto Crashpad - Folding Foam Crashpad for Bouldering - Orange
7 Reviews
PETZL Alto Crashpad - Folding Foam Crashpad for Bouldering - Orange
  • MINIMUM BULK — MAXIMUM PROTECTION: 118 x 100 x 10 cm 46.5 x 39.4 x 3.9 in surface area. Easy to transport and position the mat on any terrain. Three layers of foam of different densities and structures for better cushioning. One-piece hingeless design for uniform cushioning over the entire surface.
  • TRIPLE DENSITY: Three layers of foam of different densities and structures for better cushioning.
  • HINGLESS CONSTRUCTION: One-piece hingeless design is easy to carry when folded and offers uniform cushioning over the entire surface.

Last update on 2022-09-30 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

The PETZL Alto Crash Pad includes three layers of foam of different densities and structures for the best protection from falls.

The Alto Crash Pad is 46 x 39 x 4 inches, adjustable bandolier, and has multiple handles, making it easily transportable.

Its fabric is also waterproof and ultra-durable.

It also features chest and waist adjustments and wide shoulder straps for comfort on the go.

It’s a little bit more expensive but will definitely keep you safe on higher climbs.

The durability and portability are great.

This is even more impressive due to the size and thickness of the foam.

Pros

  • Comfortable features
  • Easily transportable
  • Great protection from falls
  • The folding system protects the foam

Cons

  • Some reviews state it isn’t durable

Best Bouldering Crash Pad Buying Advice

1. Crash Pad Categories

The size of the pad is a clear sign of safety or danger.

It can be difficult for a middle ground in this category because the size can be helpful large or small.

The smaller the pad is, the more comfortable it will be carrying.

The larger the pad is, the more space it will cover.

You can categorize these pads by supplemental, regular, full, and oversized.

For higher climbs, choose full or oversized.

2. Foam Types

Foam types can be categorized by open or closed-cell.

Closed-cell would make the padding more firm and harder on impact.

Open-cell would be soft and allow air to enter and exit.

There are combinations, though.

Such as the Mad Rock R3, which is made out of shredded, recycled closed-cell foam.

3. Foam Layering

The most ideal layering technique for foam would be a top and bottom layer of firm foam to take force and send it to the middle, soft layer while also preventing bottoming out.

This also stops moisture from getting into the pad since the closed cell does not absorb water.

4. Pad Thickness

The general rule you should follow is the bigger the fall you could take, the thicker the pad should be.

This allows enough space between you and the ground to reduce the chance of injuries.

If you want to go pretty high, then we suggest 5 inches to ensure your safety.

5. Fold Types: Hinge, Angled Hinge, Hybrid Hinge, Taco

Hinge folds are made up of two separate foam sections, making a crease at the folding point.

It preserves the pad and won’t weaken the foam at the crease.

However, this is also a disadvantage since a gap can form.

Metolius is currently the only company that makes angled hinge pads, but it could change.

This pad folds out, then the top foam extends over the bottom while the bottom extends under the top.

There is still a disadvantage, but it’s a little bit better.

The hybrid hinge pad has a thin, continuous layer of foam on the top.

However, durability is questionable after routine uses with this type of pad.

Taco pads do not have a way to fold in half since it is 4 to 5 inches of foam with no gaps.

It’s completely safe, but carrying can be challenging without the gap.

6. Closure Systems

Closure systems come in three styles: buckle, flap, and zipper.

Buckles, like on the Black Diamond Mondo, are easy to secure during carrying but aren’t necessarily safe for smaller items.

Flaps are great for carrying other items safely and even a second pad.

These are overall preferred over the three closure systems.

Petzl is currently the only brand using the zipper closure system.

Zippers are great for carrying small items inside.

However, zippers are not durable whatsoever.

7. Portability: Suspension System and Carry Straps

Portability is a large concern with pads.

When looking for a suspension system and carrying straps, look for the most support.

Try to find the more comfortable straps possible, as well as handles and other features.

8. Weight

Most pads weigh around 10 to 20 lbs.

Weight is an essential consideration depending on how far you are traveling.

Carrying anything heavier than 10 minutes or more would wear you out before you even get to climbing.

Try to find a decent weight with a good layer of foam to ensure safety and convenience.

9. Organization

When climbing, you need multiple items.

From the pad, chalk, climbing shoes, and more, you will want to keep your items organized.

Pads that come with pockets are always a huge plus. 

Closure systems are good for the organization since they will keep your objects from dumping out and getting all over the place.

Flap closure systems are the most preferred system.

It will help keep you organized.

10. Durability

Crash pads are made for crashes.

It’s important for your safety that you pick a durable pad and store it in a way that will preserve its durability.

When storing a crash pad, always lay it flat with no objects (especially heavy objects) on top of it.

Keep it out of hot conditions while storing.

Also, remember to keep it clean and dry.

All of this should keep your bouldering crash pads durable and safe for your climbing adventures.

Best Bouldering Crash FAQs

What is a bouldering crash pad?

A bouldering crash pad is foam padding that prevents climbers from hurting themselves while climbing.

Crash pads have different types of folding, features, and foam that a climber can choose from for their preferences.

A crash pad should be used at low or high climbs to keep everything from minor to extreme injuries.

It can also be used as a carrying device for water, shoes, chalk, and more.

How to repair a bouldering crash pad?

The best repair for bouldering crash pads is upkeeping them.

Crash pads require maintenance to keep them functional.

You should always brush off any dirt and allow it to dry before storing it.

You also should never store it compressed.

Allow it to open and don’t have anything on it while storing.

Don’t store it in hot conditions, it can break down the fabric and foam.

If there is a hole, you should fix them as soon as you are able to.

This is to prevent water or anything else from reaching the foam.

If your crash pad has a gap in between the creases of the foams, then you can get a smaller pad to lay on top for safety.

Keeping up with your crash pad is important to keep you safe and climbing.

Which crash pad do I need when bouldering alone?

When bouldering alone, it’s best to put safety first.

We would suggest the PETZL Alto Crash Pad because of its extra foam padding and a large area to fall into.

The comfort from the carrying systems would help keep you from getting worn out before you begin climbing as well.

In general, look for great foam padding, large size, and portability.

How thick should a crash pad for bouldering be?

The thickness you need really depends on how high you plan ongoing.

Remember the rule: the higher you go, the thicker the pad should be.

If you are going pretty far up, five inches should do the trick.

If you are going high, also remember to get a bigger surface area as well.

It will also help keep you safe.

How do crash pads work?

As earlier mentioned, the work of the bouldering pad is to lessen the energy impact on the boulderer’s falling body, or rather it cushions falls. 

On how it works, the interior of 99 % of most crash pads is made of a few foam layers.

The top consists of a hard, closed-cell foam layer that spreads the crash energy and then another softer, open-cell layer that offers a cushion.

Mostly, the crash pad has another closed-cell layer underneath that protects the pad from hitting the ground. 

Can you rent crash pads for bouldering?

Yes, you can rent a crash pad for bouldering.

Most local gyms rent out the bouldering pads to climbers.

They have a great selection of pads, though the cost can vary depending on the crash pad that you choose.

Note that crash pads are not the same; they come in different aspects. 

However, that should not worry you since some rentals will ensure that the climbing community can easily access the crash pads to help manage the risks of bouldering.

Others will ask you to book via their system to reserve due to the demand. 

What foam is used for crash pads?

The most critical part of the crash pads is the foam.

They might look all the same, but each pad’s form core might be different; thus, they don’t take falls equally.

Therefore, two types of foams, the closed-cell, and the open-cell make up the bouldering pads.

They both affect differently, whereby the closed cell offers more support while the open cell offers more cushioning.

Mostly, crash pads combine the two foams for a safer and more sustainable structure. 

The durable, stiff, and weather-resistant closed-cell foam would not work alone unless you want to fall onto a plywood-feel-like pad.

The more closed-cell foam, the more uncomfortable and stiffer the crash pad is. 

So, it’s not advisable to have the entire crash pad using closed-cell foam.

But it can be more if you are falling from highball climbs, it will give better protection since the impact is huge and chances of bottoming out are higher.

On the other hand, the open-cell foam does the opposite.

It’s soft but not as absorbent, so it’s prone to mildew and durable as the closed one.

Though it’s cushier and nicer to lie on, it has greater chances to bottom out during long falls.

Lately, manufacturers are adding some new crash pad models with a layer known as memory foam.

However, pads with this particular foam layer tend to be more expensive but will make the falls relatively fair. 

How to clean crash pads?

The long-standing crash pad goal for every climber is to lengthen its lifespan.

So, maintaining it should be a priority.

While at it, you have to understand the product’s structure or the foam’s science to keep it durable for more years. 

On cleaning the bouldering pads, you need to get a damp scrub or rag to wipe its shell or scrub using a soft brush.

Use some detergents to remove any tough stains engrained on the stitching line but avoid damaging the fabric.

Using a lot of water might leave your mat moldy and smelly, so ensure to air dry it before storage.

For drying purposes, you should unzip the shell so that the air can circulate.

Note that heating the mat to dry could make the foam degrade.

Also, you shouldn’t remove the foam from its shell since it’s more durable inside, but it gets delicate, similar to a tortoise if you remove it.

Storing a clean mat keeps it in good shape and avoids ponging in the house. 

How to use a bouldering crash pad?

The crash pad is placed under the climbing block.

You need to move and adjust the pads in a great position at a potential impact point of a climber.

After all, a crash pad has a shell designed to withstand contact with a rough rock for a long period, and the interior can withstand multiple falls without leaving an impression.

Here is how to use a bouldering crash pad.

1. Look for the fall zones

While bouldering, ensure that you place the pads on all the fall zones: the boulderer is likely to fall when coming off the rock. 

2. Make a Level for a better landing

At times you will realize that the ground is not well leveled due to the slopes or rocks.

You can place some smaller pads to even the place and then position the larger crash pads on top.

And, you can as well fold them to the required height.

After leveling, you can test the landing area by walking on top to ensure the bouldering mat doesn’t collapse in a specific area. 

3. Avoid gaps in between the pads

While adjusting the crash pads, you should ensure that no gaps are left between them.

4. Stack pads well for highball boulders

It would be best to stack the crashing pads properly for highball climbers since the higher the climber, the harder the falling impact.

Despite the landing being flat, it’s good to make the landing more than three pads deeper. 

5. Be a great spotter

For one to create a great and safe landing point, you need to be a good spotter.

Note that a good spotter is not the one responsible for physically getting hold of a falling boulderer but guiding them to fall into the well-set crash pad you just made. 

How many crash pads do I need for bouldering?

Crash pads come in different foam layers and qualities.

The number will depend on many more factors, and whether the pad has two or five layers, it’s hard to tell how much you might require due to the coordination of your form layers.

In addition, the boulder’s weight matters. 

Do you need a crash pad to boulder?

Yes, especially if you are going for outdoor bouldering.

It’s helpful when it comes to cushioning the falls.

Bouldering is among the climbing activities that significantly need less climbing gear than others.

For indoor bouldering, you only need a chalk bag and a pair of shoes.

You don’t need a crash pad in this case. 

Why are bouldering crash pads so expensive?

Crash pads are expensive due to the variety of attributes that add to their cost, for instance, the durability, folding system, foam layers and types, pad size, and several unique features such as backstraps, floor mat, storage space, and the flexibility of switching it into a chair.

However, there are cheaper crash pads as well. 

What is the biggest crash pad?

The Black Diamond Mondo isn’t just large but massively huge.

It has a width of 44 inches and a length of 65 inches, and a total of 2,860 square inches of coverage.

The internal foam is 5 inches thick, the thickest you will come across in the market.

Mostly, highball boulders use the Mondo or climbers with the regular-sized bouldering pad but feel it’s too soft or too small to serve its purposes. 

Are organic crash pads worth it?

Yes, they are worth every dime.

The organic crash pads are the most valuable and durable bouldering equipment that you will ever have.

The other types could last for only two years, unlike the organic crash pads designed with durability and much higher quality that last longer. 

How thick should a bouldering mat be?

The standard thickness is utmost three to four inches.

There are huge five or more-inch pads, and the thinner crash pads are available in just 2 inches.

The thin, wider pads are useful for covering large areas to fill in gaps. 

However, the general rule requires at least 3.5 inches, but you should consider stacking pads together or using the thicker pads for higher falls.

Though there are pads that open up, replacing the foam layer is possible.

Some manufacturers sell new replacement foam pre-cut. 

With no further ado, it’s time to buy or rent that crash pad from the local gym for outdoor bouldering.

Keep in mind that the most critically essential aspect of the pad is the foam layer.

It might have all the super fancy design and attractive features, but you don’t need it if it’s not safe enough.

Not all pads are expensive; the affordable ones can also serve the purpose.

Final Thoughts on the Best Bouldering Crash Pads

If we could tell you which crash pad to get, we would.

However, which pad is right for you is something only you can decide.

You know how far you are traveling, the height you could fall, and what your preferences are.

It’s important to choose a pad that will ensure your safety and comfort.

Even an experienced climber should continue to learn about the types of crash pads to keep up with the advancements and maintenance a pad needs.

Pads are an essential part of the hobby of climbing because it keeps you safe and has multiple benefits.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you learn and understand more about the process of choosing a crash pad.

Have fun, and choose the bouldering crash pad that will keep you safe.

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About the author 

Bernice

Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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